Agenda item

Passenger Transport Review

 Report by Dr Carlton Brand, Corporate Director


 Councillor Philip Whitehead presented the item which asked the Cabinet to agree a sustainable approach to supported bus service provision in Wiltshire with a number of options and recommendations for Cabinet’s consideration.


David Redgewell, South West Transport.Network, addressed the meeting, and outlined the issues that had been brought out as part of the consultation and from interactions with users. He emphasised users concerns about the impact of potential cuts to services, and outlined how different groups of users could be particularly affected. He highlighted the importance of good quality services supported by effective marketing as a way of improving take up allowing services to be reduced.


He also drew attention to concerns about restrictive provisions within the Bus Services Bill, currently being considered by Parliament.


The Leader thanked Mr Redgewell, and his team, for engaging so positively in the consultation.


In presenting the report, Councillor Whitehead emphasised: that the review focused on what journeys are being made, and how services can be best designed to support these; that the scope of the review had primarily included the bus services supported by the Council, including those run by commercial companies with subsidy from the Council; that running services in a rural economy was complex; that the Council intended to protect the maximum number of journeys and believed it should be possible to do that within the existing policy; that the Council would want to focus on improving marketing and service changes; that as the new Services Bill, if passed, would be unlikely to be implemented until 2019, that the Council should not delay any changes.


In response to issues raised about the possibility of sharing resources with services provided by Health partners, the Leader proposed that a paper be jointly prepared for the Health and Wellbeing Board.


Councillor Simon Killane, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee, commended the decision to include members of the Scrutiny Task Group onto the project board for the review.


In response to a question raised by Councillor Bridget Wayman, Councillor Whitehead stated that the length of time taken to achieve a sustainable service for a particular route would depend on the complexity of that particular area.


Councillor John Thomson made reference to the role that Area Boards can play in providing a forum for different community transport groups to learn from each other.


In response to a question raised by Councillor Mike Hewitt, Councillor

John Thomson stated that it was illegal to ask for donations from concessionary bus pass users. Councillor Whitehead made mention of a subsidy top up scheme in Norfolk that, if successful, could be applied in other areas of the country.


Cllr Peter Evans, Chair of the Task Group, drew attention to the information gathering work undertaken by the Group, and commended the public for their engagement in the consultation process.. He also commended the officers for their hard work.


In response to a question raised by Mr Redgewell, Councillor Whitehead stated that he would be interested to see how the ‘closed transport system’, such as secondary school buses, could be used for members of the public where no other service was available.


In moving the recommendation, Councillor Whitehead offered his congratulations and thanks to the officers for their hard work, especially in analysing over 11,000 responses which included categorising the 21,000 issues raised in the free text.  




1.    To review all passenger trip subsidies above the thresholds set out in the Local Transport Plan and together with other measures described in this report achieve £500,000 savings in the passenger transport budget.


2.    That authority is delegated to the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport to make final decision following consultation of specific services which fall under this criteria.


3.    That Wiltshire Council works more closely with the Health Authority to the mutual benefit of both organisations, particularly around the integration of NEPTS with SEND and Social Care transport and the development of the Public Transport Strategy; and that, as part of this process, a paper is jointly prepared by the Council and its Health partners be presented to the Health & Wellbeing Board.


Reason for Decision:


In order for Wiltshire Council to meet future budget pressures and ensure that a sustainable, long-term solution to passenger transport in Wiltshire is maintained.

Supporting documents: